I have a shapefile of the U.S. states, and tabular data that I joined to it based on the state name. The data was downloaded in .csv format, but it didn't carry over some number categories when I joined. So I converted it to a .xlsx, appropriate formatted each column and re-did the join. After that, all of the columns name and information was available.

Now, I have to export the combined data as a new feature class. When I do that, the column names change to have additional text (states_STA, states_SUB, states_S_2, etc.), or to shorten themselves, and therefore removing the identifiable information.

What can I change in my work flow so that the original column names will remain the same?

  • 1
    Welcome to GIS SE! Thank you for taking the new user tour. The tour states there should be only one question, however you have asked multiple questions here. Please edit your question to focus on one specific question (I recommend #2 as this possibly also will incorporate an answer to #1).
    – Midavalo
    Jun 15, 2017 at 19:49
  • Are you using ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro when you try to do this? You have tags for both so I think one should be removed.
    – PolyGeo
    Jun 19, 2017 at 23:14
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    I am using ArcGIS Pro. I don't think it is as widely used as ArcMap, but figured the problem would be similar on either platform.
    – Remy
    Jun 20, 2017 at 18:38
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    I have reopened the Question due to the removal of the extra questions, however, although the problem may be the same in either application, the work flow solution may be different. In order to get focused answers it may still be worth focusing on just ArcGIS Pro (if that's what you're using) as @PolyGeo has commented above.
    – Midavalo
    Jun 20, 2017 at 21:22

1 Answer 1


Shapefile field names can be a maximum of 10 characters long, so if your field names were longer than that then they will have shortened to fit within that limitation.

See Geoprocessing considerations for shapefile output

With some exceptions that are noted below, shapefiles are acceptable for storing simple feature geometry. However, shapefiles have serious problems with attributes. For example, they cannot store null values, they round up numbers, they have poor support for Unicode character strings, they do not allow field names longer than 10 characters, and they cannot store both a date and time in a field. These are just the main issues. Additionally, they do not support capabilities found in geodatabases, such as domains and subtypes. So unless you have very simple attributes and require no geodatabase capabilities, do not use shapefiles.

To allow field names longer than 10 characters, export your data to a File Geodatabase feature class.

  • I've started exporting to GDB and its working out for my application. Thank you.
    – Remy
    Jun 22, 2017 at 15:40

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